Interview with Manoj Srivastava CEO, Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) on IFFI 2010
The 41st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) concluded recently. What are your thoughts on the festival?
IFFI 2010 has been a great film festival, with acclaimed films from across the world being featured here along with performances by entertainers from various genres. Over 300 of the finest films from 61 countries were screened during the 11 day festival. Additionally a host of national and international stars descended into Goa. From international star Frieda Pinto who starred in the Oscar nominated Slumdog Millionaire to Bollywood’s very own film icons Ajay Devgan, Manoj Bajpai, Subhash Ghai, Rajkumar Hirani, Madhur Bhandarkar, Riya Sen, Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Rampal, Boman Irani, Oscar winner Resul Pukutty and more.
This year the season opened with the British comedy drama, West is West. Andy DeEmmony’s-Om Puri starrer, West is West is a sequel to the highly successful East is East (1999). The festival signed off with Princess of Montpensier, a 2010 French period romance film directed by Bertrand Tavernier that has been screened at the Cannes festival earlier. Interspersed between these were a host of other critically acclaimed international films from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. IFFI 2010 also had on offer a number of short films and documentaries in the Short Film Centre (SFC) category, an ESG initiative.
IFFI 2010 was not just about remarkable films; it was over 240 hours of entertainment and fun. The festival schedule was packed with events like world premieres, film bazaars, master class series, interactions with the directors and buyers, workshops and music concerts.
The festival is growing by leaps and bounds with each passing year and the response to the festival this year has been overwhelming. Over 8000 delegates registered for the festival and the attendance is growing with each passing year. A lot of effort has gone into getting the festival up and running and the Entertainment Society of Goa would like to thank everyone for making IFFI 2010 a massive success.
The festival offered the best of cinema including short films and documentaries in the Short Film Centre (SFC). With acclaimed films from across the globe, the festival represents a kaleidoscope of cultures and creates a medium to appreciate and share cinematic excellence.
What were the reactions to the sections curated by ESG?
This year IFFI featured a retrospective on legendary French scriptwriter and director Jean Becker. Becker, a competent director in his own right is also an excellent scriptwriter. Witty, yet profound, through his work he has been able to strikes the right balance between humor and deep human emotions. We were extremely happy to host Jean Becket at IFFI 2010.
ESG also curated the Country Focus – Georgia section. Georgian cinema has a beauty of its own. Deeply rooted in history and literary arts, the art form has evolved over the 100 years since the country first started making movies. The films selected this year were an excellent collection.
E-ticketing was introduced at IFFI this year, however not everyone was happy with the process involved. Would you say the concept benefited delegates at the festival?
We at ESG have constantly innovated, improved and raised the bar of excellence higher with each passing year. The e-ticking process was another step towards bringing technological advancement and better facilities to delegates at IFFI. E-ticketing is an excellent facility which has been adopted for the benefit of delegates. Being the first year, there were a few minor glitches and teething problems. However they were ironed out within a few days of its commencement.
Short Films and documentaries are often neglected in favour of commercial feature films. However that was not the case at IFFI with the Short Film Centre drawing a lot of attention. Could you elaborate on the initiative?
Yes, this year we laid special emphasis on promoting short films by upcoming directors so as to provide them with a platform to showcase their talents. The Short Film Centre received tremendous support from our partners and sponsors. We are particularly grateful to all our sponsors and the UB Group in particular who supported the initiative wholeheartedly.
Divided into two broad categories within SFC, International Competition screened 20 short films from across the world. The Environmental Competition had 10 shortlisted films vying for the coveted Vasudha Award, the country’s only government award for an Environmental film. SFC saw three entries from Goan film makers – 1 in the international competition section and 2 in the environment section.
We were delighted with Mr. Mallya’s presence at the award ceremony. His support will surely go a long way in encouraging short film makers and spreading awareness about the importance and contribution of short films to Cinema.
Chota Cinema, an ESG and Mandovi Entertainment initiative saw 56 entries, all submitted by people of Goa. The short films were screened during IFFI. Through Chota Cinema and the Goa Film Society we ensured that the excitement of the festival reached across to students, colleges and film clubs across the state.
The common man often feels left out of the excitement which surrounds IFFI every year. How can ESG attempt to bridge the gap between IFFI’s film viewing audience and the aam aadmi?
Every year IFFI synergizes global participation, high profile glamour, world-class entertainment and internationally applauded films. We wanted to extend that excitement and buzz beyond the theatres to the people of Goa, which resulted in the Goa Shopping and Food Festival. Over 200 retail establishments and restaurants participated in the mega shopping festival organised by the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) in association with the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI). Designed on a shopping festival model, shops and restaurants offered large discounts to IFFI delegates and the general public. Additionally; games, live entertainment, shopping hunts and contests were organised as part of the festivities.
A number of other entertaining events were held along the sidelines of IFFI, including fashion shows, concerts, master class sessions, workshops and competitions. Besides this, the Kingfisher Village located along the riverfront had a crowd of over 5000 people everyday.
ESG’s mandate is to promote Goa as a film destination. What steps have been taken in this regard?
ESG is constantly working to promote Goa as a film destination. We are trying to encourage film shoots here.
A tax reimbursement scheme for the filmmakers shooting in the state is currently being worked out wherein part of the tax amount may be reimbursed to the filmmaker after he produces the bills when the film is ready.
It was often felt that IFFI lays a lot more emphasis on Bollywood films, while regional cinema gets relegated to the sidelines. What is your opinion on the issue?
Of late, regional cinema has gained tremendous ground in India and it has always been our endeavor to provide national and international platforms to showcase talent across regions. It is heartening to see directors of the stature of Mr. Subhash Ghai adopting and encouraging regional filmmaking (the Bengali film Nauka Doubi directed by him premiered at IFFI this year) and we hope to see a lot more regional film entries in the coming years. Likewise Amol Palekar has left an indelible stamp on not just commercial Hindi cinema, but also experimental regional cinema. His film Dhoosar also premiered at IFFI along with Rajendra Talak’s O Maria.
Every year there are speculations that IFFI will move out of Goa to an alternate location. What is the current status?
Goa is about fun and entertainment. Its scenic beaches and quaint surroundings create the ideal atmosphere to host an international film festival like IFFI. A blend of culture meets modernity and puts it at par with other international venues like Cannes, Berlin, Toronto and Venice. Goa is truly on its way to becoming the world’s next entertainment super-hub, with IFFI 2010 spearheading its growing recognition as an International cinema destination. The growing attendance with each passing year is acting as a catalyst in our endeavor.